Skip to main content

-March 12, 2017

This is a delightful and insightful Ted talk by Caroline Paul: "To raise brave girls -  encourage adventure" 

- February 15, 2017


by Rachel Simmons, Girls Leadership Co-Founder

-January 22, 2017

The Noticeable Impact of Camp on Kids

Deidre Pettinga, Ph.D.

Hi parents!  My name is Deidre Pettinga and I’m the Chief Marketing Officer for the American Camp Association (ACA).  In this role, I work with our communications, business development, and membership teams to support the mission of ACA to enrich the lives of children, youth, and adults through the camp experience.  But I am also a wife and mother to two boys, one in high school and one in college.

Whenever people ask me about my camp story, I tell them I went to camp.  I have many fond memories from the day camp I attended for eight years when I was a child. I also enjoyed the two summers I spent at a Girl Scout overnight camp.  As much as I loved all of that — my camp story is really more about being a camp parent.

When my older son was in fourth grade, we sent him to an ACA-accredited residential camp in Colorado (we live in Indiana).  It was the same camp my husband and his siblings attended as children. We ultimately sent both of our boys to this camp, each for five years.  And they both LOVED it!  They still talk about camp, still keep in touch with some of the friends they met there, and I can see where the values they learned about fair play, sense of community-building, and holding yourself to a code of living still impact the way in which they conduct themselves.

I can see it — because I am their mom.  But what’s most important about my camp story is how I learned that other people can see it. 

A few months after my son returned from camp and entered fifth grade, a mother I barely knew came up to me after school and asked me what was different about my son.  What had I done? Or what had he done over the summer? When I asked her what she meant, she explained that even though she only knew him by watching him on the playground after school for a half-hour or so each day — standing around with other moms doing the same thing before heading home — she could see tremendous maturity, leadership, and sense of fairness in the way he was interacting with the other kids.

Her comments blew me away. Was the change in my son so obvious that it could be noticed by someone who barely knew him?  She kept prodding me to know what he had done that could have made such an impact on him.  When I told her about his summer camp experience, she asked to learn more, and ultimately ended up sending her son to the same camp for a couple of years.

I know it can be scary to think about sending your child away to camp.  And, over the years, I’ve had plenty of moms say to me (in a disapproving tone!), “I could never send my children away like that.”  Having never been a fan of “Mom Shaming,” whenever anyone would make a comment like that to me, I would simply smile and reply, “It’s not about what I can do; it’s about what they can do.”

So I’m here to tell you I’ve seen first-hand that they can do it — and, apparently, other people have seen it too!

Deidre Pettinga, Ph.D., is the chief marketing officer for ACA.

-January 10, 2017

From ACA Website: Summer Camp for Kids - Now More Than Ever! by Andy Pritikin

We hear it all the time- “What’s with these young people? They can’t focus, can’t communicate, they’re entitled, self-centered, constantly staring at their screens!” Well folks, this is the generation we have fostered. Technology snuck up on us, we gave them all participation trophies, and now we have to work alongside of them for the rest of our lives. But, today’s parents are generally better at understanding what is lacking in their children’s development and are prioritizing differently for the children we are raising now.

For the past 150 years, our educational system has focused on “the 3 R’s”, hard skills, memorizing dates, formulas and vocab words, while in the 21st Century, the world suddenly changed. All of a sudden, millions of jobs have become antiquated and disappeared. To paraphrase the Global Markets Institute, as automation became cost-effective, the bulk of the workforce has shifted from ‘doing’ the work (HARD SKILLS) to organizing, coordinating and supervising the increasingly complex resources behind it (SOFT SKILLS). While there are currently an estimated 7.4 million unemployed workers, there are 5.6 million job openings. That’s a huge SKILLS gap, and according to employers, it’s not the hard skills that’s the problem, it’s the lack of soft skills of the entering workforce.

According to the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (, which is comprised of Fortune 500 business leaders and progressive educators, the top skills sought by today’s employers are:

1. Oral Communication (great texters and tweeters, but not great face-to-face)

2. Teamwork & Collaboration (great on their own, not so much when working with others)

3. Professionalism & Work Ethic (personal satisfaction reigns supreme- YOLO!)

4. Written Communication (most of today’s teachers have literally given up)

5. Critical Thinking & Problem Solving (Parents micro-manage their children to the point in which they can’t do things for themselves)

Add to this picture that 30% of students entering 4-year college programs DROP OUT after their first year, and only 56% graduate within SIX years. Why is this? Besides financial burdens, see the big five p21 skills above that our kids are lacking, especially #5 when Mommy or Daddy aren’t around to fix their problems!

So where can we help young people find these skills? Schools are focused on standardized tests, Families run their children from obligation to obligation, plus homework, and the allure of XBox, YouTube, Instagram and the DVR. Where can children experience a “Step Back in Time” to a more care-free environment like we experienced as kids, unencumbered by technology, where people interact by actually speaking to one another, face to face, outside among nature, in a supportive environment that fosters the development of skills that employers are looking for in the 21st Century, away from their over-loving and ever-hovering parents? At SUMMER CAMP!

Summer Camps have existed for over 100 years, but have become more important for the development of children than EVER before. Children work together in groups, led by energized staff who lead by example, forced to communicate and compromise with one another, conquering their fears, pushing beyond perceived limits, making and keeping friendships, and learning an abundance of new skills (hard and soft).

The American Camp Association estimates that 11 million children attend Summer Camp annually, which leaves another 30 million who do not. Why is this? What holds back the uninitiated parent from enrolling their children to Camp? After growing a successful program in an area with no prior culture of Camp, I present to you my top three excuses:

1. “Too much money.” Of course, this is a perceived belief, as there are camps in all price ranges, and if the camp experience was valued as much as “camp people” attest (priceless), these families could stay at a smaller hotel at Disney, or make other choices to give their children a summer camp experience. Many adults say that they learned more about life at Camp than they did at College, at a fraction of the price!

2. “I just want my kids to relax during the summer.” As they should, and boredom (without screens) is an important component of growth. After a couple of days immersed in a quality Camp program though, children find it very relaxing and enjoyable. They can play video games, stare at their phones and sleep late in the time they will still have at home.

3. “I want to spend time with my children.” That’s wonderful, but will you be providing meaningful opportunities that teach your children important character and life skills this summer, or just entertaining them? Camp can do both!

At Summer Camp, children take advantage of the unique “out of school learning environment” that is able to teach the vital life skills that traditional schools can not- Skills that allow children to grow into happy, successful, contributing members of society. In a world today that often seems to de-value virtues like kindness and acceptance, Camps create a culture that makes it cool to be kind. As parents, we do our best to provide a strong foundation for our children in our homes, like nutrient-rich soil for our little seedlings. Summer Camp provides an environment for our little flowers to flourish and bloom, outside in the fresh air and sunshine of the summer!

Andy Pritikin is the owner/director of Liberty Lake Day Camp in Bordentown, NJ, founding partner of Everwood Day Camp in Sharon, MA, and President of the American Camp Association NY/NJ., 

-December 2016

"Why I Love Summer Camp"

By Corbin Friedman

Although I am only 14 years old, I can honestly say that some of the experiences I've had at summer camp I will remember for the rest of my life. Some of the things that I've had the opportunity to do at camp most people will never do in their entire lives. In my opinion, summer camp is one of the best experiences a child can, will, or could have.

There are so many children in the world who feel restricted by society; I know because I was one of them. Often times it feels as if there's a certain character I've built for myself at school and at home, but when you go to summer camp, you can change an entire aspect of yourself if you want, because these people don't know that about you. You can change what you don't like about yourself, or you can be an entirely different and new person if you want.

For all the opportunities and character development, the real truth is that camp is just plain fun. I simply never stop smiling when I'm there — the only time when I can honestly say I'm not having fun is that horrible moment when I see my parents driving up to take me away from the most magical place on earth.

The summer camp I speak so fondly of is Green River Preserve in the mountains in western North Carolina. In my opinion, it is probably the most beautiful place on the planet. I'm from central Indiana, and anytime I'm near mountains I'm completely in awe. People who live in regions with mountains don't quite understand how majestic they are to those of us who live surrounded by corn and soy fields.

So, yes, my camp is beautiful to me, not simply because of the scenery, but because of the community. You go there and even if you don't know a single person, you immediately feel as if you're home — and that feeling only strengthens the more time you spend at camp. You are in a new environment and you learn new things — from your counselors and from your fellow campers. I've met so many new people in such a spectacular place; I've gone for five years and each year the experience has been different and better. You can arrive at camp with a lot of people who you already know and you all click right off the bat — great friends from the very beginning. Or you could arrive with absolutely no idea where you are or what you've gotten yourself into, thinking, Who are these people who are supposed to become my friends? For me, the adjustment has always been short and the community forms in just days.

I've aged out of base camp at Green River Preserve. This past summer was my last. I wish I could keep going to that magical place, but you can't be a child forever. So, when you finally do age out of camp or if for some reason you don't go back, don't forget your camp experience. Looking back, it may be one of the best things you did with your life as a child or teenager. Summer camp is an opportunity like no other, and I wish all children could experience the magic, the home, and the wonder that I have enjoyed during my time at GRP.

In the interest of full disclosure, Corbin is my grandson. He has been going to camp since he was eight, the first two years at a YMCA camp near home, and the last five years at Green River Preserve. I've often wondered what I would do if my grandson didn't like camp — I didn't have to worry. And his camp experience will not end totally. Next summer and all his summers of high school, he will be participating in expeditions. The first one will be kayaking through the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and a few of his camp friends are going with him. And he talks about applying to be a counselor when he's in college. I am so happy that camp provided him with such joy — experiences, opportunities, knowledge, and friends to last a lifetime.
— Harriet Lowe Editor-in-chief, Camping Magazine 

Corbin Friedman is a freshman at Plainfield High School in Plainfield, Indiana, and a seven-year camp veteran.

-November 2016                                                                        

We have great news to share! Camp Summergold has a new campsite for summer 2017.

We’re moving to The Leadership Center, a beautiful 27 acre property with an indoor pool, volleyball courts, a pond with paddle boats, bonfire pits and hiking paths located in Aurora Nebraska.

When we started brainstorming (in 2013) about creating a Nebraska summer camp for girls, our focus groups told us to “create an informal learning experience that celebrates camp life, creativity and friendship building.”  This move gives us the flexibility to reach that goal by offering more outdoor activities in addition to our strong programming in ARTS and STEM.

Aurora is 70 miles west of Lincoln.  It’s an easy drive on Route 80, but we realize some families won’t be able to make the trip - so – affordable transportation from Lincoln will be available.

Our camp tuition remains at $675 for 2017 and we’re launching a new online registration process in mid- December. Health forms, scholarship applications and payment plans can be created and submitted online. The registration link will be on our home page –

Important registration dates to remember:

Early bird discounts are in effect through January 31.

Discounts are available for siblings.

Scholarship applications are due by March 15.

Exciting holiday fundraisers are in place to benefit our Send a Girl to Camp scholarship fund.

Thursday Dec. 8th - 4-9 pm - Lincoln Embassy Suites. 8th Annual Lincoln Holiday Craftacular - 70 artists will set up shop for a one-night-only celebration of all things handmade. A suggested $1 admission donation at the door goes to Camp Summergold.

November 28 through December 9 – Twelve Days of Giving at Ten Thousand Villages will donate 10% of your total net sales at the checkout when you ask to direct your purchase to support Camp Summergold.

REUNION! Our reunion is planned for Sunday, January 28th, 2017 from noon to 4 PM at The Leadership Center. Come and tour the property, eat pizza and swim or play games.  Bring the family and we’ll share details about the exciting programming we have scheduled for 2017. Let us know if you are interested in attending soon. Parents received an invitation and an RSVP card.

Please contact us at if you have questions. We’re looking forward to sharing our excitement with you.